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It’s all about the ancestors, believe it or not. The invisible realm controls the outer. Those who believe in magic are in touch with reality – a truth, the initiated, those beings open to a creation story they participate in. Life is a collection of unedited stories; the end of a chapter does not mean the end of the book. With that said, the MAAFA Commemoration is upon us once again, celebrating its 23rd anniversary.
Those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area reflect on the legacy and work that illustrated the life of Queen Mother Makinya Kouate. After Maulana Karenga gave the students from Merritt College a mimeographed sheet with notes about a harvest festival called Kwanzaa, the Oakland-Berkeley team started hosting community Kwanzaas in their homes. Later Sister Makinya would travel to Africa and learn more about harvest festivals
Marcus Gardley’s “black odyssey,” currently on stage at Cal Shakes in Orinda, translates the Black Holocaust into modern language. Gardley takes an oral history, Homer’s Grecian hero’s tale, then ruptures and reinterprets it so the folks submerged in the waters of confusion gain clarity. Those ancestors at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean are resurrected in “Ulysses Lincoln” – a hero and a warrior.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially those dads who stayed the course, when walking away would have been so much easier, even expected. Happy Father’s Day to the OGs who have grown more responsible with age. It is never too late to do better, even if you missed a generation – grace is that second chance. Congrats to all the May-June graduates, especially my niece and nephew Wilda Batin and Wilfred Batin.
Happy New Year! Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Brianna, niece Wilda and friend Fred T. I am still smiling about America’s new relationship with Cuba and the freed Cuban 5. If you are in New Orleans (NOLA), don’t miss “Prospect 3: Notes for Now,” the biennial there being celebrated throughout the city through Jan. 25.
Hodari is something of a renaissance man. If you have spent time on the cultural scene, you are familiar with some of his work – the annual Life is Living Festival, the Black history oratory and poetry group Young Gifted and Black, Youth Speaks or the statewide initiative fighting Type II Diabetes called The Bigger Picture.
The long overdue First Annual Mission Latin Jazz Festival features a showcase of exceptional musicians and bands from the Mission District, the Bay Area, California, the U.S., Latin America and beyond. Come celebrate exceptional local, national and international Latin Jazz artists at Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., San Francisco, Oct. 13-14.
Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, was the opening of August Wilson’s play, “Seven Guitars,” directed by Kent Gash, at the Marin Theatre Company. I hadn’t seen the play in about 15 years. Wilson was alive then and he was work-shopping his latest – play five in the eventual 10-play cycle – at ACT-SF with the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in a co-production.
Rico Pabón is one of the most talented, versatile, dedicated and well-informed artists that I know on the West Coast. At home in the studio or on the stage, the Afro-Puerto Rican bilingual musician known as Rico Pabón is a man of many genres. Although hip hop is the music of his generation, he is just as comfortable singing traditional Afro-Carribbean tunes with a live band.
Maafa 2009 was chillier than usual, but our hearts were certainly no less warmed by the ancestors’ tight embrace as supplicants made their way through the Middle Passage to the Wolosodon rhythms, the slave march through the Doors of No Return to the beach where each person held a piece of string – symbolic of a connection … a philosophical connection to the homeland, family and history.
Required reading for Americans pre-fireworks and festivities should be an important speech given by abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, who, in “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” questions this holiday which took place while citizens were denied their right to justice, freedom and equality. At the Oakland Public Conservatory, Michael Lange and youth wordsmiths Ayinde Webb, the drummer in the Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble, and Jamani Williams will read excerpts.
We want to call the names of those who made their transition in January and offer condolences to their loved ones who have yet to cross that bridge. I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that Ave Montague is gone.